If you are in Toulouse on a Sunday, you can enjoy shopping, sightseeing, museums and some indulgences along the way in the historic centre.
Depending on how early you like to start the day, I would suggest you start your morning at around 8 am or later is fine.
Early in the morning, the city is still very much deserted and you can enjoy strolling down the quiet, narrow, cobbled streets where the early sun brings a shine to the red town bricks.
Start at the Sunday morning market around the Basilique Saint Sernin. Its an interesting cosmopolitan melting-pot mixing the cultural ethnicity of the town and Northern Africa influence. The magnificent Basilique Saint Sernin, a former resting place for pilgrims on their way to the town of San Diego de Compostella in Spain is worth a visit inside.
At the market, you will find an array of cheap hardware, fabric, spices, artcraft as well as clothing items from North-Africa and a variety of food stalls. I love spending time looking for interesting pieces of collectables or rare old books in the well –stocked bouquinistes stalls. (pictured)
Next walk through Rue Saint Rome, the oldest merchant street with a selection of beautiful historical buildings making your way to the main square Place du Capitole, smelling the fresh grinded coffee from the many cafés along the way, as well the appetising smells of freshly made croissants and other pastries flowing out of the bakeries.
When you arrive on Place du Capitole, browse around the square du Capitole and have breakfast at one of the many al fresco terraces under the arches enjoying the nice cool breeze on a hot Summer’s morning. They are just across the majestic townhall, the seat of the powerful and rich old merchants les Capitouls.
Toulouse is a bike friendly town. Getting on a velolib, one the city council bikes, you can ride safely around the shared pedestrians zones, where you can decide to either go shopping, on Alsace-Lorraine or explore the chic boutiques of rue de la Pomme starting from the main square du Capitole. You will surely stumble on the most Italian looking square of the town, la place de la Trinité with its charming little chic boutiques, cafés and restaurants (pictured).
Art lovers will be delighted with a visit to the Musée des Augustins (at the corner of Metz and Alsace-Lorraine streets). This museum, situated in a monastery of the XIV-XV Centuries is typically Toulouse in style, possesses an important collection of paintings and sculptures. You can also admire the cloister with its arcades and gargoyles and its beautiful garden where fruits, flowers, vegetables and medicinal plants mix, a cool place to enjoy a peaceful spiritual hub in the middle of the city. Feel free to go on the first Sunday of the month: admission is free! (Otherwise the full price is just 4 Euros).
Alternatively you could also visit the magnificent Renaissance town mansion l’Hôtel d’Assezat, which is now a museum with the Bamberg Collection.
When the sun starts being hot, and the stomach starts complaining, it is time to relax in an atmospheric place and enjoy a lunch break au Père Louis (click to see pictures) depicting the charm of one of the oldest and authentic wine bars and restaurants with a range of delicious local food, and sip a local based wine aperitif.
By the afternoon more people are wondering the streets. Because Discovermyfrance advocates for slow paced tourism, I always provide guests with rest time, and I would suggest you do the same. Cross the ‘new’ bridge on the other side of the Garonne river bank to a park called Prairie des Filtres. With a few pillows and blankets, it is now time to rest and enjoy the fresh breeze from the Garonne river. If you happen to be there mid-June, you could listen to a Latin music celebration (a short video here ).
After your rest, you could explore the other side of the river heading towards Saint-Cyprien or cross the ‘new’ bridge back and go through the district of les Carmes and Saint-Etienne, one of my favorite areas where I used to live as a student. End the evening with a riverboat cruise where you can enjoy dinner and a nice local wine on the Garonne river.